Question: "High" concepts in Fantasy

Irina Rempt irina at
Sun Mar 2 16:34:11 EST 2003

On Sunday 02 March 2003 02:41, Jon Noble wrote:

Lessee, I'll try it on one of my current favourites, _A College of 
Magics_ by Caroline Stevermer.

> Secondary Worldliness

> set in a world nearly ours = 2 points
> set in a variant of ours (eg alternate history = 3 pts

Either of these; I don't know if it's meant as alternate history (split 
off at some point) or a close parallel. It feels more like a close 
parallel, so I'll give it 2.

> Scale of the story

> events affect the world = 5 points

Absolutely. Perhaps even the universe, but that's only implied. Total 7.

> Good v. evil

> a villian, but still human (eg criminal mastermind) =
> 3

There's someone who doesn't die until he's got a replacement (and is 
more, perhaps much more, than a hundred years old) but he's definitely 
one of the good guys. All the villains are very human indeed. Total 10.

> Significance of magic to story
> Hardly noticed = 1 point
> incidental = 2 points
> down to
> Everyone has magic and its vital = 5 points

It's not that everyone has magic, far from that, but the story is 
*about* magic. Let's give it a 4 for good measure. Total 14.

> Bonus points
> each cliche from Tough Guide = 1 point (but no extra
> points for the same cliche repeated)

I can't for the life of me find any, not even with the Tough Guide handy 
for reference. Perhaps only that the protagonist is a young woman 
misfit. Well, 1 just in case. Total 15.

> Every 500 pages or part thereof = 1 point

Well, yes, it's part of 500 pages. Doesn't that mean that *any* book has 
at least one point? Total 16.

> Add all points together, anything with more than 20
> points is High Fantasy, Less than 5 points is Low
> Fantasy, Anything inbetween is probably worth reading

Sure! Comes out more High than I'd expected, though, probably because 
the story is about magic. 

My own work in late-stage revision, on this scale, comes out 16 or 17, 
but that includes are seven points for a secondary world with maps and 
a language, though the map isn't vital for the book (and I won't 
include it on submission) and I only use a few words of the language 
(which is fairly complete on its own; I didn't make it up *for* the 
book, the world and the language had already existed for a decade or 
more when I started writing it) when there's no fitting technical term 
in English.


Vesta veran, terna puran, farenin.
Beghinnen can ick, volherden will' ick, volbringhen sal ick.          Latest: 23-Feb-2003

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